Google is expanding access to games that allow users to gamble with real money to the United States and 14 other countries through its Play Store.
In a policy update set to go into effect on March 1, Google will “allow real-money gambling apps, ads related to real-money gambling, and daily fantasy sports apps that meet certain requirements,” the tech giant said.
Gambling apps are already available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, and France, where laws regulating gambling are less restrictive. Unlike the U.S., gambling in the U.K. does not have to be run by a government entity.
Google will allow online casinos, lotteries, sports betting, and fantasy sports apps, but any app developer that wants access to Google’s customers will have to meet several requirements — including proving that it is “an approved governmental operator and/or is registered as a licensed operator with the appropriate governmental gambling authority in the specified country, and provides a valid operating license in the specified country for the type of online gambling product they want to offer.”
In addition to needing the necessary licensing in every state where the app can be downloaded, Google’s policy contains a number of other conditions that might be more difficult to enforce, including ensuring that underage users are prevented from accessing the apps. All gambling apps must also be free to download and must include warnings that “clearly display information about responsible gambling.”
Despite those regulatory difficulties, other mobile app stores, including Apple’s platform, have allowed gambling apps for years — though with a caution to developers that “gambling, gaming, and lotteries can be tricky to manage and tend to be one of the most regulated offerings on the App Store.”
That disclaimer hasn’t helped Apple avoid its own legal troubles for hosting gambling apps, though. A lawsuit was filed earlier in January in the District Court for the Northern District of California alleging that Apple hosts and benefits from illegal gambling enterprises.